Are you ready to explore London’s haunted spots? Don’t chicken out.
Considering it has a history that stretches back millennia, it’s not exactly a surprise that London has more than its fair share of skeletons in the closet…
They’re there, ready and waiting to scare the sh*t out of you when you least expect it (don’t even get us started about the time the piano started playing itself at school shortly after the untimely demise of our music teacher – can’t even).
Screw your courage to the sticking place – it’s time to discover the most haunted places in London.
Haunted Places in London
The Tower of London
Given its hair-raisingly grisly history (including the murder of two boy princes) it would be more of a shocker if the Tower of London didn’t merit a place on this list of the most haunted places in London.
Though many people have died at the Tower of London during the course of its bloody history, it’s the ghost of Anne Boleyn that has haunted the Tower most persistently through the centuries.
Her headless torso supposedly stalks around the Tower, particularly around the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula where she’s buried.
In the 19th century, a sentry who saw her ghost on the staircase of the White Tower suffered a fatal heart attack.
Another sentry fifty years later claims to have seen a faceless woman wearing a Tudor dress and French hood – receiving the shock of his life when he tried to thrust at her with his bayonet and it passed straight through the figure.
He was court-martialed for sleeping on his watch but found not guilty when a number of eyewitnesses claimed to have seen the same figure that same night and another officer testified to having witnessed the bayonet exchange.
Yeah, yeah – naming a cemetery as one of the most scary places in London feels like an obvious move, but hear us out before you roll your eyes into last year.
Highgate Cemetery falls prey to the usual chit-chat about ethereal spectres and hauntings, but it’s in the tale of the Highgate Vampire that things get really weird.
In the late sixties, tales started to circulate around Highgate about sightings of a ghostly tall man in a hat who would melt into the walls of the cemetery when spotted.
Things took a nastier turn in 1970 when dead animals, drained of blood and appearing to have lacerations on their throats, started to appear in the area.
Two vampire hunters (for real), David Farrant and Sean Manchester both proclaimed it was the work of a vampire and claimed they would destroy the creature. In doing so, they kicked off one of history’s weirdest rivalries and a bout of media hysteria that only ended in 1973 when Manchester claimed to have driven a stake through the vampire’s heart in Crouch End.
Was it true? Was it all a sham? No one will ever know, but the legends of the vampire live on.
Bringing their penchant for the theatrical into the afterlife, the ghouls at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane aren’t exactly the shy and retiring types… they’ve been spotted by dozens of actors and performers over the years.
In fact, there are few people who’ve worked in the building that haven’t experienced some kind of paranormal or inexplicable event.
Accounts vary but witnesses testify to seeing at least two clowns – including the spectre of the famous clown Joseph Grimaldi and the notorious Man in Grey, a caped spectre who stalks the upper circle in a recognisable hat.
Even Sir Patrick Stewart swears he saw the ghost of former actor and long-deceased manager of the theatre John Baldwin while performing Waiting for Godot at the theatre.
The Ten Bells
The Ten Bells’ former name, Jack the Ripper drops a massive clue about why this unassuming pub in Spitalfields is notorious as being one of London’s most haunted spots.
It’s said that two of the Ripper’s victims were linked to the pub. Mary Kelly is supposed to have frequently touted for business outside the pub and Annie Chapman had spent the evening drinking here just before she was murdered and found on nearby Hanbury Street.
It’s Chapman who is said to haunt the pub, her ghost still showing the horrific mutilations inflicted by the Ripper and the pub has reported numerous poltergeist activities throughout the years.
The Dominion Theatre
In 1814 a giant vat of porter exploded at the Meux & Co’s Horse Shoe Brewery, unleashing a deadly tidal wave of beer that raged through St Giles and leaving at least eight dead in its wake. No, we’re not telling porkies, this is one of those weird London facts where the truth is stranger than fiction.
What does it have to do with The Dominion Theatre though? The Dominion just so happens to have been built on the former site of the brewery and is reportedly haunted by a number of the beer flood victims, most persistently the 14-year-old barmaid Eleanor Cooper.
Eleanor has made frequent appearances at the theatre and, most creepily – seemingly revealed herself in a disconcerting selfie taken by two theatregoers.
50 Berkeley Square
Gaining notoriety in the Victorian period as the most haunted house in London, the legend of 50 Berkeley Square is not one for the fainthearted.
The vengeful ghost that haunts the building is said to be that of a young woman who purportedly committed suicide by throwing herself from the attic window after being abused by an evil uncle.
Her spectral form is so terrifying that it’s said to have driven a maid mad after she spent one night in the house causing her death the next day, and causing another man to die of fright after spending a night in the same room shortly afterwards.
There does seem to be a rather prosaic explanation for these lurid tales – based around a former owner of the property, Thomas Myers, who became a recluse in the house after being jilted by his fiance.
Myers’ behaviour became increasingly erratic: he made strange noises, was largely nocturnal and also let the house fall into a state of severe neglect, providing fodder for tales of haunting.
Hampton Court Palace
Not one but two of Henry VIII’s former wives are said to haunt the rooms of Hampton Court Palace – Catherine Howard and Jane Seymour.
Howard’s ghostly activities in the Haunted Gallery sadly echo events that are said to have happened in her life.
Legend has it that Howard found out she was to be charged with adultery – the same thing for which Anne Boleyn had been executed – she ran through the gallery screaming, hoping to find Henry to plead her innocence.
Just as she got to the end of the gallery, she was seized by the guards and taken to her room – and executed at the Tower of London three months later. Her ghost is said to run through the Haunted Gallery screaming for mercy to try and avoid her fate.
Seymour’s appearances seem pretty tame by comparison – it’s rumoured she makes an annual appearance on the stairs to the Silver Stick Gallery carrying a candle on the anniversary of the birth of her son Edward I and is sometimes seen in the Clock Court.
Cross Bones Burial Ground
Just around the corner from the glitzy environs of London Bridge and The Shard, the remnants of the medieval Cross Bones Burial Ground tells the story of the area’s less salubrious history.
Back in the day, this was one of the poorest parts of London, a lawless part of town that was home to the Winchester Geese – the prostitutes licenced by the Bishop of Winchester.
Barred from being buried in consecrated ground, the prostitutes, along with the area’s poor and disenfranchised, were dug into the mass burial ground now known as Cross Bones.
On 23rd November 1996, the writer John Constable experienced a visitation from one of the Winchester Geese buried at Cross Bones revealing a number of truths and visions to Constable.
The writer turned the experience into his play The Southwark Mysteries, parts of which are re-enacted at the vigils held at the burial ground each month.
A stately home in leafy Richmond may seem an unlikely haunted London spot – but that’s exactly what you find in Ham House.
Inexplicable events and strange occurrences have plagued the history of the house – apparently caused by the spirit of Elizabeth Murray, Duchess of Lauderdale.
Murray was a ruthlessly ambitious woman who was suspected of murdering her husband… apparently for the usual reasons women were suspected of at that time (having the temerity to further social success through remarriage rather than tearing her life apart in grief and fading into graceful obscurity).
Either way, Murray’s ghost has been haunting the house after she died, with guests reporting an oppressive atmosphere and pets reluctant to enter the lower floor where the paranormal activity is highest.
Venture to Tottenham’s little-known Bruce Castle and you’ll hear stories of the ghostly apparition of a former resident Lady Constantia Lucy, who apparently threw herself from the castle parapets with her child in her arms after her husband Henry Hare had confined her in the upper rooms of the house.
It is said that every November, on the anniversary of her suicide, you can see her wild form atop the parapets and hear her shrieks in a ghastly replay of her final moments.
Liverpool Street Station
There are more tales of haunted London underground stations than we could ever cover here, but the ones behind Liverpool Street Station sound pretty legit – if only because it’s located on a mass burial site of victims of the plague. Gruesome.
Not many people know that what’s now the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham used to be called Bedlam and was located… just by Liverpool Street Station. It’s thought that the institution buried the victims here during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Rumour has it that they’ve taken to haunting Liverpool Station – which perhaps explains why the most reported sighting is of a man wearing white overalls.
Who knew idyllic Highgate was home to so many haunted places in London? Boasting not one, but two ghouls, local pub The Flask doesn’t stint on the creepy factor.
One ghost is purported to be that of a Spanish barmaid, who hung herself in the cellar after having her heart broken by the publican who did not return her love.
The second? An unidentified man sporting the uniform of a cavalier who always appears to be looking out of the window as if he’s keeping watch for someone before he turns and disappears into the pillar in the middle of the room.
The Tulip Stairs
Ever heard of The Tulip Stairs? There are two reasons why you might have. The first being that they’re an extremely beautiful part of the extremely beautiful Queen’s House in Greenwich. The second being that they’ve got a scary spectral past linked to them.
The story begins way back in the 60s when a pair of Canadian tourists were spending an afternoon taking in the sights at Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College and Queens House when they arrived at The Tulip Stairs.
Stuck by the beauty of the staircase the pair snapped a shot on their camera, hoping to immortalise the memory. It wasn’t until they got back to Canada and got the camera film developed that they saw a ghostly figure chasing another up the stairs.
The news of such ghostly happenings inspired The Ghost Club, a crew of paranormal investigators to spend a night at Queen’s house searching for the presence of spirits. Their search came up with nothing and the case was closed, until…
In 2002 a gallery assistant witnessed a figure “gliding across a balcony, dressed in an old-fashioned, white-grey dress and passing through a wall…”
Be careful next time you’re driving through The Blackwall Tunnel. It’s a known hangout for a spectral hitchhiker.
A worrying amount of motorists have told of taking the tunnel’s south entrance and being greeted by a man in black motorcycle leathers asking for a lift. Those who gave what he asked reported polite conversation and small talk until, in a flash, the man disappears.
It gets even creepier…
In 1972 a driver who picked up this phantom hitchhiker, curious as to what happened to the man in his car, went to the address that the man in black leathers had given him. He was greeted at the door, by a relative who told him in no uncertain terms that the man in question perished in a motorcycle accident many years before.
London’s Most Haunted Spots: Practical Tips
- Silver bullets, garlic and crucifixes have been proven useful defences against vampires.
- Attempting to contact the dead can have unintended consequences. Do not undertake to speak with restless spirits unless you are ready to dwell with them yourself.
- If there’s something strange, in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
Map of London’s Most Haunted Spots
Ready to explore? Use this handy map to explore the scary places in London featured.
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